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Chargers

Chargers open the 2018 NFL season at home against Kansas City

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Chargers running back Melvin Gordon runs past Chiefs defenders during first-half action at StubHub Center last September.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The NFL’s schedule makers did the Chargers an enormous favor in 2017, giving them three home games in the first four weeks of their inaugural season in Los Angeles.

The Chargers responded by losing each of those games.

This year, the NFL wasn’t quite as kind to the Chargers, who will face playoff teams in their first three games. San Francisco, which ended last season red hot, will be waiting in Week 4.

The team will lose a true home game in Week 7 when they travel to London to play host to the Tennessee Titans at Wembley Stadium, but they’ll also skip a week of travel by heading up the 110 Freeway to the Coliseum for a “road game” against the Rams.

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Nine wins wasn’t good enough to get the Chargers into the postseason t in 2017, finishing 9-3 after the disastrous start.

The Chargers have to hope that this season’s difficult start will toughen them up early.

Sunday, Sept. 9: KANSAS CITY, 1:05 p.m. Pacific time (Ch. 2) — Philip Rivers threw six of his 10 interceptions last season in two games against the Chiefs. His new backup, Geno Smith, has never thrown an interception against the Chiefs in his career. Advantage: Smith.

Sunday, Sept. 16: at Buffalo, 10 a.m. (Ch. 2) — Anthony Lynn returns to the only other place in the NFL where he served as a head coach.

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Sunday, Sept. 23: at Rams, 1:05 p.m. (Ch. 2) — The “Fight For L.A.” might actually be a fight in L.A. with renowned pot stirrers such as Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib now in the mix. As a bonus, no one will be able to complain about out-of-town fans taking over the stadium.

Sunday, Sept. 30: SAN FRANCISCO, 1:25 p.m. (Ch. 2) — The 49ers struck gold (get it?) when they landed their quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, in a trade with New England last season. He quickly turned their prospects around, and is likely to make his L.A. debut in front of a lot of San Francisco fans.

Sunday Oct. 7: OAKLAND, 1:05 p.m. (Ch. 2) — Oakland being out of playoff contention at the end of last season helped keep StubHub Center from being overrun by Raiders fans. By meeting earlier this time around, Chargers fans will have to fight through a likely silver-and-blackout.

Sunday Oct. 14: at Cleveland, 10 a.m. (Ch. 2) — The last time the Browns won a game, they beat the Chargers on the shores of Lake Erie. If it happens again, the Chargers might be swimming back home. On the plus side, they’ll get to stay in the Midwest before heading to London.

Sunday Oct. 21: TENNESSEE (at London), 6:30 a.m. (Ch. 2) — The Chargers take their show on the road across the Atlantic Ocean, as they pay part of their relocation tax by losing a literal home game. Assuming they don’t defect, they’ll get a bye week after the travel.

Sunday Nov. 4: at Seattle, 1:05 p.m. (Ch. 2) — Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley returns to the place that made him a hot name in the coaching industry with a chance to survey the ruins of the “Legion of Boom” defense he helped build.

Sunday Nov. 11: at Oakland, 1:05 p.m. (Ch. 11) — The Chargers won in Oakland last year when they made a game-winning kick, with players running off the field taunting Raiders fans. Luckily for the Chargers, Raiders fans are widely known as some of the most forgiving and understanding in sports.

Sunday Nov. 18: DENVER, 1:05 p.m. (Ch. 2) — The Chargers dominated the Broncos at home in one of their best performances last season. And with Denver half-in, half-out of a rebuild, a repeat performance could be in store, even with Case Keenum playing quarterback.

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Sunday Nov. 25: ARIZONA, 1:05 p.m. (Ch. 11) — Former Chargers coach Mike McCoy gets another shot against his old team, this time running the Cardinals offense that could be a good one if new quarterback Sam Bradford stays healthy (he won’t) and running back David Johnson returns to form (he will).

Sunday Dec. 2: at Pittsburgh, 10 a.m. (Ch. 2) — Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger were the first, second and third quarterbacks selected in the 2004 draft, and all three players have had Hall of Fame careers. The next quarterback taken in 2004, J.P. Losman, has not.

Sunday Dec. 9: CINCINNATI, 1:05 p.m. (Ch. 2) — The Bengals seemed as if they were going to try something new this offseason but, instead, they extended coach Marvin Lewis. Was it a victory for stability and loyalty, or did it just reward mediocrity?

Thursday Dec. 13: at Kansas City, 6:20 p.m. (Ch. 11/NFL Network) — The Chargers failed to win their way into postseason play last season in Kansas City, and now go back on a short week. We’ll see if a new Chiefs quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, is trouble for the sure-to-be-barbecue-bloated Chargers defense.

Saturday Dec. 22: BALTIMORE, 1:30 p.m. or 5:20 p.m. (NFL Network/TBA) — Like the Chargers, the Ravens finished 9-7 last season and were squeezed out of the postseason. Despite persistent questions about whether the Ravens are still a playoff contender, they always seem to be in the mix.

Sunday Dec. 30: at Denver, 1:25 p.m. (Ch. 2) — The Chargers lost their season opener in Denver last year when a potential game-tying kick was blocked in the final seconds. The Chargers are hoping a playoff spot does not come down to the wire this season.

dan.woike@latimes.com

Twitter: @DanWoikeSports

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